Don’t go losing your head now

Seen in Lawrenceville today:

Sad snowman!

spring 2011 mix


I know, sure, I don’t post here much anymore. But I’ve returned to give you a link to a new mix I’ve made for you. It’s a bunch of songs I like, specially crafted for spring. Mostly upbeat, happy stuff up in here. I’m not going to post all the artists and track titles here, because then it’ll be Googleable and people looking for free downloads will find it, but it’s really just a present for you people who I know and/or who follow me for whatever reason.

If you reallllly want a tracklist before you download, maybe I can send it to you. amulkerin at gmail. Otherwise, just download the damn thing and be surprised. Yeah!

list of hashtags i have used in ubertwitter in the past

Submitted, unedited, for your approval:

A List of Hashtags Saved in UberTwitter on My Blackberry


at last: fish tacos, the recipe!

I’ve promised it numerous times to different folks; now I’ll deliver: here is how to make fish tacos, if you are me, or if you aspire to be me.

Fish Tacos the Way Andy Makes Them (Serves 4)


1 lb. tilapia filets (about 4 of ‘em)
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4 radishes, julienne
1/4 cup chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 limes
vegetable oil
2 avocados
1/2 cup (or so) sour cream
1 jalapeno or other hot chili, or just some cayenne or whatever
salt & pepper
taco shells or small tortillas
maybe a little queso fresco or cotija cheese, if it’s available — not necessary, I didn’t use it this time around


Let’s start with the slaw, because that’s easy.  Take your shredded cabbage, and your julienned radishes (that means slice them thin, then slice them into matchsticks). Mix the two in a medium bowl, then in a small bowl, combine about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and about the same amount of lime juice.  Mix that til it emulsifies some, then add it to the cabbage and radishes, and mix well.  If you want, slice a little of the jalapeno up and add it to the slaw. Set this aside — maybe in the fridge; it’ll be a little bit before you need it.

Next, the guac stuff: You could just make regular guacamole. I prefer to do this lighter avocado sauce with sour cream in it. For this, peel and pit the avocados and mash them up. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and some chopped jalapeno if you care to. Mash it some more, then add the sour cream and a bit of lime juice — maybe a tablespoon? Add some salt and pepper too — however much you like. Mix well, taste and add a little of whatever’s missing, if something’s missing.

Now, take that fish. I cooked it on a Foreman grill — just stuck two pieces at a time on there and cooked a couple minutes, until it was flaky and white all the way through. You could also grill it or bake it or fry it in a pan with a little vegetable oil. While I’ve had fish tacos made with breaded and fried fish before, I don’t recommend it — the only really good ones I’ve had that way were from Las Velas (RIP). (Protip: You can sprnkle a little ancho chili powder or rub on a little chipotle if you want — not necessary, but it spices things up.)

I basically always use soft shells/tortillas — I heat them in a dry skillet, though you can also stick them in the oven for a minute or microwave thirty seconds or so between slightly damp paper towels (not too damp or the tortillas will end up soggy — gross). When your shells are warmed, fill each with a little fish, some of the sauce, a generous heap of the slaw, and some roughly chopped cilantro, then add a squeeze of lime juice for good measure. If you’re using the cheese, sprinkle it on now — I don’t recommend cheddar or anything like that; just use something mild and crumbly like queso fresco or cotija. You can get those at a Mexican grocer. Or just don’t bother with it. These tacos are fine without!

Here’s what it should look like:


Serve with some rice, or beans, or tortilla chips, or like WHATEVER.

Let me know what you think when you make them!

another buzz a-comin’


So, it’s 2011, and I’m going to be good at the things I do this year. One of these things: continuing the 9:13 Buzz on WYEP. Every fourth week or so, I go into the studio at WYEP and spin a couple tunes I like. My first of the year happens this Wednesday at or about 9:13 a.m. — tune in on your crystal set or stream it online. I’ll be previewing some stuff that I have high hopes for in the early part of 2011.

Also, check out this wall hanging I found at Target. Inspirational, to say the least!

end of 2010: mix #2!

As promised, I bring you my second year-end mix: this has some more electronic-y stuff, and some slightly weirder stuff, but still some pop-type stuff. Lots of stuff, really. It’s a mix of stuff. It’s called:

2010: The Year Those Russian Spies Got Caught

I hope you download it and I hope you listen to it and I hope you like it! Let me know what you think! Happy new year! Screw the old year!

end of 2010: mix #1

Hello Internet-friends!

While I hate making year-end best-of lists, I love making mixes. So, I’m supplying you this week with not one but TWO mixes of good songs from the year 2010. The first mix drops today, and is called 2010: The Year the Bears Invaded Pittsburgh. Remember that? Remember all the bears? That was cool.

I’m not listing all the artists and songs here because this is my gift to you, and not just a way for someone to Google around and find a track they want from an artist they like without paying for it. Trust me: These songs are good. And 90 percent are songs or artists I played on the 9:13 Buzz this year.

Dig in! There’ll be another tomorrow.

2010: The Year the Bears Invaded Pittsburgh

new things, this week


Today there’s a new paper out; my local music column is about Justin Andrew and his job working the sound booth at Brillobox. I’ll give you the link tomorrow, but if you’re in town, pick up a paper today to see it. There’s a lot of good local stuff in the music section, actually: VIA Festival, Lohio release, etc. JUST GRAB A DAMN PAPER!

Elsewise, what’s new? Writing, football-watching, general busy-ness. Last weekend was an excellent birthday one. I was present for the Pirates’ 100th loss of the season (it was the first time they reached that mark since 2001). I got fish tacos and free fried ice cream. I got to hang out at Mike’s DJ night at Geno’s. I got A NEW ALARM CLOCK! I got some excellent records (Arthur Russell’s Sleeping Bag Sessions, Katy Lied (finally), and another of my favorite songs of all time, on 45. SCORE!

Going on vacay next week. You won’t hear from me. I swear. I won’t be answering my phone, either. Just leave me alone.

new work: Van Dyke Parks, more

So, it’s been a while since my last update on my published work. Let’s talk about that, shall we?

This week’s Big Deal surrounds Van Dyke Parks, the guy who cowrote one of my favorite songs of all time ever. The short version of my talk with him is here. The first part of  (mostly) unabridged version is here on FFW>>. Part two will be posted tomorrow — if you’re lucky, it’ll feature a little audio nugget from the man himself about his time in Pittsburgh!

Other recent items of interest include my review of Emmett and Mary, a Johnstown outfit on the My Idea of Fun label, and some talk early this month about Developer’s Project 52.

Oh, hell, while you’re at it, read what I had to say about the new IMAX film!

Also I did another 9:13 Buzz last week and forgot to tell you about it. Unless you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook or whatever in which case you couldn’t get away from it. Read about it here.

What’s up this weekend? Pirates, maybe Howlers, Geno’s for Cunningham’s DJing, maybe Title Town. What’s up with YOU, dawg?

The Lives They Left Behind

I know, I did that thing again where I disappear. I’ve had an increased workload at work, and an increased funload outside of work, so forgive the absence.

I write today to tell you about one thing I did this weekend — besides a couple of show I went to that I’ll blog about over at FFW>> soon, and watching some Sherlock Holmes, and watching some Steelers, and making some soup.

On Saturday, the mom and the girl and I went to Frick Fine Arts to check out The Lives They Left Behind, an exhibit about the contents of the suitcases of patients at a 20th-century New York State mental hospital. It’s there in conjunction with, an equally moving exhibit of photographs of abandoned institutions  in various stages of decay.

The part of the exhibit is what you face first upon entering the gallery: a set of photographs, some of very recognizable scenes (a wall painting with a room crumbling around it), some of structures that have decayed to they point where they’re barely buildings anymore.  Each photo has a text that accompanies it: the texts range from explanations by the photographer, matthew murray, to pertinent poems by various writers. The running theme is the photographer’s commitment to preservation and critique of the property owners who let historic buildings fall to ruin — and let the stories of the people who once resided in them fall to obscurity. The photos focus on spaces the viewer can inhabit and perspectives that sum up what a location was, is, and is soon to be.

The suitcase portion of the exhibit isn’t tactile, and doesn’t include actual artifacts, as I thought it might — it consists mostly of large placards of text and photos explaining the lives of the patients who are featured and the contents of their respective suitcases. They range from a Ukrainian immigrant who lost his bearings after losing his wife in childbirth (and thought he was going to marry the president’s daughter) to a woman who simply had a somewhat cantankerous personality and was kept locked away for the rest of her life with little else in the way of symptoms.

The side room of the exhibit features a video loop of a short documentary piece in which New York mental patients tell their stories. They range from the sad — the abused, the poor, the humiliated — to the strangely amusing (a man who insists he came to the hospital on “the day the South Bronx burned” and Batman saved so man lives) to the obstinate (a woman who posits that mental institutions should all be turned around so that the patients get reign over the “creepy doctors and nurses”).

The exhibit calls into question both the way mental problems were diagnosed and treated in the 20th century and the way they’re approached today, with the video acting as a bridge between the two ideas. Much of the suitcase exhibit could read as history, a story about how bad things were, but the video segment manages to encourage us to question, too, how mental health is portrayed today.

The exhibit runs Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and continues only through this Saturday, the 25th; I recommend it if you can make it!